Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

There’s a lot of intrigue and excitement heading into Bears training camp this season, which has a lot to do with the new talent on the roster, namely quarterback Justin Fields.

But there are also several positional battles that will be at the forefront, where roster spots will be won and lost. Given the hype surrounding this 2021 rookie class, there will be a lot of attention on the rookies, quite of few of whom have a chance to serve a significant role this season.

Following another disappointing season from Matt Nagy’s offense, all eyes will be on that unit, where there is no shortage of talent.

Here is one player to watch at each offensive position group at Bears training camp:

Quarterback: Justin Fields

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

There will be no player more closely watched at training camp than rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who has generated hope and excitement for this franchise that hasn’t been present in a long time. While Matt Nagy made it clear Fields can’t win the starting job in training camp, that won’t stop the comparisons between him and starter Andy Dalton nor will it temper the excitement surrounding Fields. Fields has certainly impressed with his accuracy, athleticism and leadership, among other things, during the offseason program. But he also made this expected rookie mistakes, including struggles with quarterback-center exchanges. All eyes will be on Fields to see how he continues to acclimate to the NFL and just how quickly he digests Nagy’s offense. And, of course, if Fields outperforms Dalton.

Running back: Khalil Herbert

AP Photo/David Banks

Running back is a position group that appears all but set with David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen and Damien Williams. But sixth-round rookie Khalil Herbert has a good chance to lock down that fourth running back spot on the depth chart, where he’ll battle the likes of Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce. But Herbert has a good chance to make the roster due to his versatility on offense and special teams. Following the departure of Cordarrelle Patterson in free agency, Chicago has a vacant kick returner spot open, and Herbert is a prime candidate to take on that role. Last season at Virginia Tech, Herbert returned 16 kicks for 430 yards, an average of 26.9 yards per return. And it’s that versatility — and potentially filling a big need on special teams — that could give him the upper hand.

Wide receiver: Marquise Goodwin

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

There are quite a few receivers that could’ve made this list, whether that’s for a positive or negative reason. It was between Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd, the two veterans Chicago signed this offseason. But I ultimately decided on Goodwin given his standout performance during the offseason, which should easily earn him a roster spot. It’s hard to believe Goodwin hasn’t played football in a year after opting out due to COVID-19 concerns. Because from offseason reports, Goodwin was one of the most impressive players out there. Goodwin flashed his speed, which he claims is even better than his 4.27 40-time at the Scouting Combine, which is impressive given he’s entering his ninth season. But Goodwin has a real chance to become a legitimate deep threat alongside Darnell Mooney, especially given there should be more consistent quarterback play.

Tight end: Cole Kmet

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to tight end development, it isn’t until Year 2 when they really start to hit their stride. That’s due to tight ends learning not only blocking schemes but also understanding route-running. Which is why there should be real excitement for Cole Kmet in his second year with the Bears. Kmet had an encouraging rookie season, where he had a strong second half that saw him more involved on offense. Kmet was one of the standout players from the offseason, where Adam Jahns said “he was always around the ball.” Nagy said that the plan is certainly to get Kmet more involved on offense this season, including as a pass-catching tight end, which we’ll hopefully get to see at training camp. While Jimmy Graham was TE1 last season, Kmet should assume the role pretty quickly this season as he’s primed for a breakout year.

Offensive line: Teven Jenkins

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

While the interior of Chicago’s offensive line appears set, the questions come at the tackle position. The Bears released both Charles Leno and Bobby Massie earlier this offseason, which means there will be two new starters in their spots for the 2021 season. Which could also be another reason Nagy doesn’t want to throw Fields out there. But the Bears did trade up to land Teven Jenkins in the second round, who will start immediately as a rookie. The Bears have shown a ton of confidence in Jenkins to be their left tackle of the future, which was evident in releasing Leno. Training camp will give Jenkins his first real taste of battling a pass rush, which will be even more challenging against one of the best in the league in Khalil Mack. But that’s exactly what Jenkins needs. Everyone will be watching Jenkins to see how he learns from going up against Chicago’s pass rush, where he’ll certainly find himself losing at times.